This is a seriously creepy graphic novel series. Definitely in the classic horror vein and unrelentingly dark in theme. This book deals with witches aThis is a seriously creepy graphic novel series. Definitely in the classic horror vein and unrelentingly dark in theme. This book deals with witches and witchcraft, and in a disturbing way. One of the reasons that witches are so detestable to me is their tendency to take over and control people's wills and casting curses against and on people. These are the kind of witches that Baltimore is dealing with. Baltimore is searching for the way to bring the Cult of the Red King down for good, and his cohorts split up in the search for leads and they all end up in extreme danger. Baltimore and Co end up in a Russian village deeply under the spell of evil witches. His other brothers (and sisters) in arms are in just as deep as they land right in the middle of a practicing Red King cult.
Baltimore has lost so much and he's about to lose someone very close to him. He is the ultimate tortured hero, and also very stoic and stonelike. And he's a bad*ss. I am glad that the world has Baltimore to protect them from these supernatural horrors. I hope this series continues indefinitely....more
This short novel reads like a fable, ripe with Russian culture and built on the foundation of well-known and more obscure Russian folklore. Two childrThis short novel reads like a fable, ripe with Russian culture and built on the foundation of well-known and more obscure Russian folklore. Two children in a small village in Russia called Miersk face the knowledge that the Blood Prince, a huge, demonic wolf, is coming their way and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Underneath all the fable elements, there is a strong theme of the alienation of childhood from adulthood. Children are rarely heeded, listened to, or taken seriously. Through a benign sort of emotional neglect, adults leave children to build their own worlds and societies among themselves to fill an emotional void. I'm speaking in generalities. There are plenty of wonderful parents who are intimately involved in their children's lives. There are also parents who mean well, but are weighted under by the cares of life. You can see that dynamic in this book. Pasha's father is in the shadow of his own father, a dominant and opinionated man who dismisses Pasha's concerns as being ridiculous. Other than when he is needed for chores, it appears as though Pasha is left to his own devices. Whereas Lisette's father has been soured by the loss of his beloved wife and therefore neglects his daughter and his infant son when he's not raging and yelling at Lisette. Pasha and Lisette form a friendship of necessity that becomes true as they muster their courage to save their village from the Blood Prince.
I admit I rushed through reading this because I had to return it back to the library that day. I feel that I had taken my time, I would have been better able to bask in the richness of Russian culture on display. Russian culture is my thing. I have an absurd attraction to it and the language. Some might argue that mistakes were made, but I felt it was well done. There are some very lovely and magical moments that would make for a striking animated film that I hope will be made some day. Baba Yaga plays a prominent role and while she's generally regarded as a villain, she's a huge help to the people of the village, perhaps for her own reasons.
I think I would have given this a higher rating if it had been a little deeper and richer. I am probably asking too much, since this is a children's book. For what there was, it was a lovely little fable....more
This is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the charactersThis is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the characters are pretty out there. But I really enjoy this series and this book. There is some really disturbing content, so be warned.
The Ocean at the End of the Land straddles the line of magical realism and fantasy, in my opinion. There is a good dose of reality, and did that reallThe Ocean at the End of the Land straddles the line of magical realism and fantasy, in my opinion. There is a good dose of reality, and did that really happen mixed in with some very visually stunning imagery. It's also quite sober and heartbreaking in a subtle, literary fashion.
I think there is a reason that adults continue to read stories with children as the main characters. We never truly detach or divorce ourselves from our child selves. It's therapeutic to look back at that time through the viewpoint of a child character in books and to work through the issues from our own childhood.
That is why I did connect very well with the narrator of this book. I remember vivid the powerful mix of fear, curiosity, joy and the intensely visceral assimilation of all sensations from my childhood. Also in some of the bittersweet experiences that the narrator has. Not in a small way, our parents are godlike figures to us. They live on pedestals and glimmer like gold, until they don't. Until something reveals their feet of clay. However, even as children, we want to keep believing in the purity of their perfection, because we can't not believe. That dose of reality finally takes effect as we near adulthood, if we're fortunate enough to hold on to that innocent view of our parents until then..
I felt the pain of this young boy as his family is nearly torn to shreds by the arrival of a very old, very cruel force. I felt his uncomfortable situation of being the only one in his family who sees through her seemingly benign facade. At the same time, I felt great comfort in knowing that Hattie and her family are there to protect and even coddle him, when his own family fails. I loved the way they take him in and feed him delicious, satisfying food that made my mouth water as I read this book.
I like that we don't quite get all the answers for who Hattie and her family are. We just know that they are old, very old, and they have enormous power. However, they are not invulnerable.
Gaiman succeeds as he typically does in tempering the truly sinister with the sweet comfort of the familiar and childlike. He knows how to use just the right phrasing to convey this duality in his storytelling. Even though this is an adult book, I feel that it speaks to the young girl in me.
I can't say much more about this book because my mind is not very clear right now, and I read this last week (and there have been some busy days for me), but I can say that this was an enjoyable reading experience. It accomplishes much in the short span of pages, and leaves this reader with even more to ponder and to ruminate on.
This is the first book by Gaiman I've read in print. I've been getting his narrated audiobooks from the library (and enjoying them tremendously). His writing stands up to both media formats, but I have a feeling that I will probably get this to listen to as well, because I love his soothing voice and the manner in which he uses that voice to better illustrate his words on the page for an auditory experience.
I've really been into Sherlock Holmes lately. Well, at least more than usual. Yes, you can rightly blame that on the BBC series Sherlock. So when I saI've really been into Sherlock Holmes lately. Well, at least more than usual. Yes, you can rightly blame that on the BBC series Sherlock. So when I saw this graphic novel series at my library, based on a super-sleuth along the lines of Mr. Holmes, and his trusty sidekick (in this case, a woman), I couldn't resist. After finishing this book last night, I would definitely recommend it to Holmes fans.
*Simon Archard is arrogant, has poor people skills, and extremely well-developed deductive reasoning skills like Holmes. His flaws nearly balance out his strengths, and he manages to be endearing because his sidekick clearly thinks so much of him. That sympathy brings you along for the ride. *His assistant, Emma Bishop, is long suffering and often mal-treated by her friend, although her skills do come in handy in solving their little cases. Bishop is also the narrator. *And yes, there is a Moriarty-like arch-nemesis in the making.
*Emma is far from ordinary. She has some very special powers that she must hide or suffer dire consequences. It provides for hairy moments because she has to resort to her instincts and intellect to get Archard and herself out of tight situations instead of using her powers. *Unless you're a Johnlock (Sherlock and John Watson shipper), there is a subtle undercurrent of romantic tension between Simon and Emma that the story plays on. Of course, this isn't a romance, but I think that there's a 'will they or won't they' question hanging around. *In this situation, the world is a created Londonesque city that has a potential for supernatural happenings.
I enjoyed this graphic novel. Good adventure and good mystery stories. The illustrations are gorgeous. The detail of the characters' features kept my eyes drawn to the page. Each story had some good plot twists. On the negative side was the fact that it was hard to read. Normally, the graphic novel panels go from left to right and down the page. In this book, their progression varied, even from page to page. I got confused a few times and had to retrace my steps. Also, the lettering for the character thoughts was too small, hard to read. That's the main reason I didn't like this more, was the confusion I felt in its organization and setup. Overall, it's good for fans of action-adventure comics, and of course Sherlock Holmes fans. I liked the fact that in this case, Mr. Watson's role is taken by a woman, who has something yet to pull out of the rabbit hat. Like Watson, her narrative voice kept me pulled into this story and inspires more sympathy for the arrogant Archard that I probably wouldn't have felt otherwise. I will continue this series....more
It took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough anIt took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough and I was able to finish it. It turned out to be good, but I feel the writing needed more work to be more accessible. I love British just about anything, but I think some of the Britishness of this book didn't translate very well on paper.
A dark, twisted, and at times, incomprehensible urban fantasy novel.
Courtney goes with her great-uncle Aloysius on a trip to Eastern Europe. Of course, she manages to get herself in trouble, fighting for the underdog,Courtney goes with her great-uncle Aloysius on a trip to Eastern Europe. Of course, she manages to get herself in trouble, fighting for the underdog, including a patch of Gypsy werewolves, one of which is in love with a landowner's daughter. Oh, did I mention that Courtney has a boyfriend! But it's not as good as it sounds. Because her boyfriend is a vampire, and he's draining Courtney of her lifeforce and humanity. Courtney feels so disconnected and apathetic, this isn't sounding so bad to her. But her uncle loves her deeply, and he's not about to lose her to a creature of eternal darkness.
I think this might be my favorite in the series. I hope I am able to continue reading. I think my library is all out of these. Darn!...more
This is a book essentially about being an outsider and being misunderstood by everyone. That's the story of Courtney Crumrin's life. Her parents don'tThis is a book essentially about being an outsider and being misunderstood by everyone. That's the story of Courtney Crumrin's life. Her parents don't understand her at all. She's considered the weird kid at school. When she goes back to visit her parents, she reconnects with her former best friend, and they have grown apart. He's fallen in with a bad crowd, and though Courtney tries to save him, she can't save their friendship.
I could intensely identify with Courtney in the sense I was not a popular kid. I was picked on a lot growing up. One thing that I feel was a real blessing about it, was I learned to embrace the fact that you are your own person and you can make decisions for yourself and do your own thing. Like Courtney, it made me feel lonely at time, but there were consolations.
When Courtney gets back to her Uncle Aloyisus' house, she has to deal with the popular kids of the warlock families. They take bullying to a new level when they cast a spell of one of them's younger brothers. While Courtney would rather not get involved, she knows that she has to do something to help the kid, who was turned into a Night Thing. As since she has personal experience with the Twilight Kingdom, of course she has to lead the expedition to get him back.
This book is also about making good choices. Doing the right thing even when it's hard and the rewards seem nebulous. Courtney is not what I'd call a girl scout, and she did something really bad to get revenge (or in her mind, so see justice done), she hasn't completely lost her moral compass. I liked that about this book. And of course, the Faerie elements.
I like the way Courtney is drawn. She's sassy, with her little bat barrette and Gothesque outfits. She's kind of like Daria in the way she expresses herself.
I'm really starting to like this series more. It's not an upbeat read, mind you, but it's atmospheric, and you can't help but like Courtney.
This is all in black and white, but it shows how much you can really do with chiaroscuro (light and dark shading). I'm sort of lazy when it comes to it, but it challenges me to work on this technique.
I would exercise caution if I was a parent of a prospective child reader. You might want to read this first. Some subject matter and themes are not appropriate for younger readers. I would say this is 11 and older.
This second volume in the Courtney Crumrin series is superior to its predecessor. It's atmospheric and creepy, and a bit sad underneath it all. CourtnThis second volume in the Courtney Crumrin series is superior to its predecessor. It's atmospheric and creepy, and a bit sad underneath it all. Courtney is not remotely a sweet little girl. She's cranky and isolated from her peers. She has a devious nature. However, she's also decent and kind when she wants to be. She's so well drawn, her personality coming through loud and clear.
At first, I didn't like that the whole book is drawn/inked in black and white. I prefer color, but it suits the story and the mood very well. The drawings are gorgeous and the use of shadow and light (values) is impeccable. As an artist, it's important to be able to convey everything through the strength of one's skill with that particular medium, and Naifeh definitely succeeds. It's interesting that I just completed a unit on Chiaroscuro in my drawing class around the time I read this. This book enhanced my understanding of its usefulness in illustration.
There is a very sad element to this book that affected me even after I finished the book. I'm still grieving about it, actually. Someone innocent is used as a pawn and injustice seems to win out. Courtney resorts to extreme measures to exact justice, and one wonders what stains that will put on her soul. Her magic ability is growing in leaps and bounds, and it's going to be interesting to see where that goes in the next volumes.
I like her uncle. He's a pretty tough character. I wish there was more interaction between Courtney and him in the books.
An interesting world that seems to be growing in an intriguing way. I'll keep reading these....more
I can't put my finger on it, but this one wasn't a five star read for me. I think part of it's that I'm so sick of the Dark Man storyline. I just wantI can't put my finger on it, but this one wasn't a five star read for me. I think part of it's that I'm so sick of the Dark Man storyline. I just want him to be dealt with so we can move on. It was cute, how the Fables are forming a Team of heroes to fight the Dark Man, but it wasn't a strong enough concept to hang the story on. Also I didn't find the leads as compelling as Snow and Bigby are. I do like the twist with Fran Tottenkinder, but she's less present in this book as well. I just wasn't feeling this like I have past books. It's still really good, just not as good....more
The Fables series is back on track after Volume 13 Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover, which was one of the first volumes in the series I didThe Fables series is back on track after Volume 13 Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover, which was one of the first volumes in the series I didn't rate five stars in a long time. When I considered this book, I knew I was being extra-picky not to give it five stars. The story really is excellent, and some of the profound questions I've had about the Witches on the 13th Floor are starting to be answered. The reveal on Frau Totenkinder is deeper than I thought and was written so poetically. You even get a glimpse into the power politics between the 13th Floor witches. Frau Totenkinder has a young rival in Ozma. Yet they will have to work together to defeat the threat of the Dark Man, known as Mr. Dark. He is out to destroy all the Fables and build his own kingdom of darkness in its place. He truly is creepy and a terrible enemy. The secret of the power of the gateways and the magic that sustains Fabletown itself is revealed, and it's very much related to both Mr. Dark and an ancient corp of sorcerers who fought dark magic for the Empire, and Frau Totenkinder goes on a journey to recruit one of them to help their cause.
So much happens in this volume that I feel that I will get spoilery if I go into it. I did like the side story about Frogcatcher and Red Riding Hood. I always like catching up with the various Fables and seeing how life is treating them (and that's not always well).
This series is so near and dear to my heart. I'm glad it bounced back from the last volume so adroitly....more
I picked this up because it was recommended to readers who enjoyed A Tale Dark & Grimm on Amazon. I loved the humor and the quirky twist on the faI picked this up because it was recommended to readers who enjoyed A Tale Dark & Grimm on Amazon. I loved the humor and the quirky twist on the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel in A Tale Dark and Grimm, and I just plain love fairy tales, so I am looking for innovative, interesting retellings of these classic stories. I'm glad my library had this on audio. It was a fun and quick read, about 3 hours (It took me longer because I listened in spurts).
Initially, I was very drawn in. The characters of Sol and Connie are captivating, their story was somewhat poignant. I definitely felt for these kids. If you're familiar with Hansel and Gretel, you can get a head start on the storyline, although McGowan throws in some novel touches that were fun. I won't say which, because that's the fun of reading it. Sol is a young genius and inventor who gets a huge blow to his confidence that he has to work through. His mischievous, free-sprited, and intuitive sister Connie carries a burden of guilt related to Sol's greatest failure. This is a pivotal element of this story, and the author does carry it through successfully to the end. The story shows what the child-eating witch is up to in the modern age, and she's definitely streamlined her operation.
The child-eating witch is truly heinous. What makes it even more harrowing is that people actually volunteer their kids to be eaten because of the manifold failings of those kids! Definitely folks who shouldn't have reproduced! It's humorous, but on one level it's really kind of disturbing that parents would set their children up to be eaten by a witch just because they misbehave or fail to live up to certain standards. I think that they are even worse than the witch, honestly.
This is one of those books that won't appeal if you don't like a dark and kind of twisted sense of humor. Let me just say that here and now. But I think readers who like the Hansel and Gretel story won't find anything here that countermands the original story. Instead, this is just a modern update with more humor.
If there was anything I was underwhelmed with, it was the use of the secondary character who happened to be a witch as well, but she's a good witch. I understand why she couldn't help the kids very much, but I still feel she was underutilized in the story. I also wished there was some sort of confrontation between her and the evil witch. Also, I feel the ending was too abrupt. I know this is supposed to be a short book, but I wasn't fully satisfied with the ending. I definitely wanted more story and more closure.
Overall, this was pretty good. It's hard to rate it higher or to perform a very intensive analysis, because it's very short. I am glad this was recommended to me because I liked A Tale Dark and Grimm. However, it doesn't live up to the excellence of that book, and that's one caveat I would give any reader who is investigating humorous, middle grade/juvenile fairy tale retellings.
As far as suitability for young readers, I think it's fine for kids who are 8-12 (or older readers who like J/MG fiction). However, this would be too scary for a younger reader. Not that much is described, but the idea of a witch eating bad kids or even worse, their parents giving them away to the witch, is pretty disturbing, even for a much older reader like myself.
If you are able to get this on audiobook, I recommend it. I liked the narrator.
I listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. II listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. I found it hard to visualize some concepts. I honestly have no brain for mechanical concepts, so listening to descriptions of the mecha devices was difficult for me. I decided to stop analyzing and go with it. Not worry about trying to get a crystal clear image of those parts of the story, but just enjoy what I could understand. The ideas were interesting, but I was a bit clueless about what exactly made Clare what he was, and the exact interplay between his physiology and his abilities. At the end, I determined that he was heavily depending on the continual processing of information for his well-being, but he could think too much and end up in trouble. Perhaps he also has some enhanced sensory abilities which also make him susceptible to different environments.
While the magic system was very intriguing, it took me a long time to understand it or get a handle on it. I absolutely loved some parts. They were darkly beautiful. They inspired a deep sense of unease with the arcane natures of the magical acts and the beings perpetuating them, but also a sense of awe. While I have no real life interest in magic whatsoever, I do love reading about magic in this kind of fictional setting. And I thoroughly enjoyed the fact magic is so intrinsic to the fabric of Great Britain in this novel. It was very cool that the present monarch is a host for the spirit of Britannia. I haven't encountered that concept before.
As far as characters, Emma really came to life for me. She's such a complex person. She's a mix of good and bad, and her manner of interacting with others can inspire winces as often as wows. I loved how vigilant and fierce she was. She took her role as a Prime sorcerer very seriously, and her vow to protect Britain. And it often cost her personally. The scene near the end brought shivers down my spine. I also loved Mikhail. He was luscious. The way the moderator spoke his parts was utterly appealing. Especially the way he spoke to Emma and called her Prima. It sounded like a verbal caress. I was surprised at the direction that the author took with Emma's relationship with Mikhail. It added to the complexity of her character. I wish I had more answers about what Mikhail is. I have to be honest that he is a big draw for me right now, although I also find Emma very appealing as a heroine, although not always laudable in the way she acted towards some characters. Clare was interesting. I enjoyed his deductive reasoning and analysis of the very strange situations he encountered after being recruited by Emma as the sole surviving unregistered mentath. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't always 'get' what he was doing and how it affected him. I hope that will change with later books. I also liked Valetinelli. I have a fondness for roguish characters who are insanely good at being lethal. That's definitely him. The moderator made his voice very fun. He spoke with a blatant Italian accent that was lyrical and appealing.
I think the major reason why I didn't give this a higher rating was that I had a hard time getting a grasp on the story to the extent that I desired. I had a lot of questions. As far as the writing having an appeal and impact on me, that was very well done. Saintcrow has a way of bringing magical and arcane elements to vibrant life that stays with me. That imagery was very well depicted. As a visual reader, I could feel and experience the powerful magics that the characters employed, although some parts were just plain weird and my brain didn't know what to make of those. I also give this book points on having such a distinctive heroine. Not always pure in her motives, but underneath, driven to do what is right. That's a hard thing to conceptualize in a novel without polarizing your audience.
I have to give this 3.5 stars because it was flawed in some ways, but in others a very good book. I will continue this series with the hopes I will be enlightened on some of the world-building particulars and to explore more of Emma, Clare, and Mikhail, and not to mention, Supernatural Victorian Great Britain.
I found the writing clever. I was transplanted into the cutthroat world of college politics. Who knew that the wives could be just as fierce as their faculty husbands? And that they would resort to sorcery and witchcraft to keep their husbands (and themselves by relation) in power? Things get pretty nasty!
I think that there is some very interesting commentary about male and female relationships here. That old Venus Versus Mars argument. I felt at first that Norman was a rampant sexist (in a way that is very common even today). He had a superior attitude towards his wife, while simultaneously being in awe of her at the same time. He seemed to view her as an alien creature, constantly analyzing the way her mind worked, as if it was so different from his. I liked how his feelings of mental superiority over her backfired when he realized that she was in fact the one who was right about what was really going on, and how he had to rely on her knowledge of the situation. I liked how things turned around and it was clear how much he did care for his wife. How he fought for her well-being, willingly putting aside his hard-headed scientific skeptical thought processes to save her.
I feel that there is a heavy tone of satire cleverly mixed in with well-executed psychological horror. Norman's internal dialogue engenders a tone that is analytical and observational (although he doesn't seem to be as observant as one would think for a sociologist), wry and sarcastic at other times and quite laden with a menace that sneaks up on the reader. At first, I found him to be a bit of a pompous twit. I admit I can't stand when men treat women like their brains and mental capacities are limited. But I couldn't stay angry at him. He learned the hard way not to underestimate women, particularly his own wife. I think in this, Leiber is making a point. For all the men did have a tendency to view their spouses through a skewed lens, not realizing just how much power the women truly had in their lives and over them. Leiber seems to throw sexist ideas out with a wink and a nod, as if he expects the readers to reject those thoughts, or perhaps to poke fun at those who believe what he's saying. My take, anyway.
I wonder what the reception was to this book in the 1940s. The ideas of male/female relations are probing and insightful in a way that seems a bit subversive. But what do I know? At any rate, I liked this story very much. It's beautifully subtle in the slow building of menace and fear, and the ideas about society seem to be relevant today in how men and women and spouses relate to and view each other. Also it speaks to the often venomous way that women can sometimes turn against each other, belying what some (including myself) naively believe about the sisterhood of women. On the horror level, the truly heinous and scary nature of witchcraft used as a tool for power and control is enough to send a shiver down my spine. It makes you wonder just how much witchcraft may be going on behind the scenes today.
Among Others is kind of like a love letter to bibliophiles, especially those who fell in love with books as a youngster, finding solace and comfort beAmong Others is kind of like a love letter to bibliophiles, especially those who fell in love with books as a youngster, finding solace and comfort between the pages of so many different stories. In some ways, Mor's character tapped me on the shoulder, reminding me of myself as a preteen. I went through some physical problems that made life very difficult for me. In fact, (view spoiler)[ I had a hip problem that caused me to walk funny and had to use crutches before and after surgery, and people accused me of faking, as if you'd fake an injury so you could have attention you really didn't want. I also remember sitting in the library during gym hour (which was awesome since gym was always my least favorite class because all the bullies seemed to be in gym class). It was one of the few things I liked about having my hip problem, that and having a couple months out of school. I hated school, not the books but the system. But most of all, being in one of my favorite places in the world for an uninterrupted hour of reading. Whatever good books I could find in the school library. The possibilities were great, if not exactly endless, because I did eventually run out of books that I wanted to read. (hide spoiler)] I also identified with how Mor saw her life through the lens of fiction. I think that people who spend so much time reading do tend to analyze life and books in that manner.
I found myself wanting to write down all the book titles, and even looked some up on my Kindle Fire as I read. I am not a heavy science fiction reader, but I did read tons of fantasy and some sci-fi when I was younger. This book makes me want to investigate sci-fi with a renewed interest. It seems to have much to offer Mor, and perhaps I will find the same appeal with further reading. As Mor did, I read all the ones my library had, and then some of the adult books at that point. I remember that joy, which I still have, of going to the library and bookstores and finding what new books I could read. There never seemed to be enough books. The identification factor was very strong with Mor in this regard. Also having divorced parents, and how that opens a wound inside you that doesn't ever seem to heal. Lastly, a sister I love dearly. Now, my mom wasn't an evil witch. Nor was I gifted with magic powers and the abilities to see fairies (although I would love to see fairies, to be honest. I guess I'm on the wrong side of the ocean for that).
In some ways, this book has a surreal flavor. Many times I wondered how much of Mor's magic-sensing abilities and magical frame of reference was just part of her imagination's way of dealing with some events that a young person doesn't know how to handle. But, then, I think that there is too much reality to the magic here to come to that conclusion, ultimately. At any rate, I liked how at times you couldn't tell.
This lovely book is a piece of fiction that feels so intimate and personal to me. I can only believe that the author poured her own love of books and some of her own experiences with books into this book. That kind of intense realness cannot be faked. Books are such a pleasure, one that never pales. You can find so much joy and pathos in a book that it literally is like opening a door to another world, where you can escape from your own little problems enough to gain courage to face another day. Whether that's a school full of mean girls, or parents who fight more than they show affection. Or physical problems, loss, loneliness, you name it. As an adult, that allure of books hasn't palled for me. I like to think that a grown up Mor finds just as much joy and solace in her books. And I can't fault her for it. I'm the same way.
I hate giving two star ratings! Three stars might be generous on my part, because this one didn't come together for me. I did like the werewolf characI hate giving two star ratings! Three stars might be generous on my part, because this one didn't come together for me. I did like the werewolf character a lot though, so it makes me want to give it more than 2.5 stars. Dilemma! BBB doesn't allow fractions below or above .5 star ratings, so I'll go ahead and give it 3 stars.
This was interesting, although it started out slow. A different look at fairies and elves, and I liked the author's exploration of one of my favoriteThis was interesting, although it started out slow. A different look at fairies and elves, and I liked the author's exploration of one of my favorite themes in fantasy.
I think this would have been a five star book, but some aspects towards the end spoiled that for me. I feel that Bettina's insecurity and her fixationI think this would have been a five star book, but some aspects towards the end spoiled that for me. I feel that Bettina's insecurity and her fixation on Caspion sort of ruins the romance a bit. I agree with her that it would make her seem fickle if she was totally in love with Cas for years, and then all of a sudden, she's crazy about a vampire she barely knows. However, I think Trehan did just about everything he could to prove how much she meant to him. He even turned his back on his whole culture (and thus his identity for her). He also refrained from doing something that was very important to him as a Mated Vampire out of concern for her own comfort. So at the end if he lost it a bit, I think it was forgivable. Instead, she makes him into the villain. I felt that it was inauthentic. Yes, they make up at the end, and she explains her feelings about it, but it didn't really resolve my unrest about the situation. I would definitely have dropped Cas like a hot potato for Trehan, and it was said that pretty much everyone knew that Trehan was the right guy for her and told her, but it seemed like she still didn't trust it until the very end.
Other than the emotional letdown of the ending, I really enjoyed this book. While Cole expands the story beyond the Valkyries and their associates significantly, it still feels like it's a part of the series, while establishing a different direction. I think the Dacians are quite fascinating, but I can't imagine the other Dacians topping Trehan for me. He's the bee's knees, as far as I'm concerned. I love my heroes a bit remote and cerebral and coldly dangerous, and he fits the bill. Especially when he meets the other qualification that I love in a hero, dangerously, crazy in love with the heroine. He would do just about anything for Bettina, and I liked that he seriously thought about what going after Bettina would cost him. That gave his gestures even more meaning. I liked how he helped her to get over her PTSD over her attack, and in such a wonderful way.
I know I seem hard on Bettina. I realize she's young and inexperienced with life. I can see that she hasn't lived enough to be able to make the best decisions, but I do feel like she should have shown more emotional intelligence than she did. Cas was her hero, but he had feet of clay all along. She saw many of his flaws, but her love was blind for him. We do love people despite their flaws, but that doesn't mean that we're in love with them. And I feel that for someone you're going to spend the rest of your life with, they need to love you as passionately as you love them.
As far as good traits, I liked how she had a skill at developing weapons, particularly fashionable weapons that were jewelry on the surface, but were highly lethal. I liked her good heart (which is interesting because the Sorceri are on the side of the villains (Pravus), while the Vertis are the good guys. I had to remind myself that I was seeing the villain point of view several times.
The contest freaked me out. I couldn't imagine having to sit through males killing each other to get my hand. She showed a lot of fortitude in doing that. I loved how Trehan would communicate with her while he was fighting. Oh man, he was swoon-worthy.
Yeah, it's clear one of the biggest appeals of this book was Trehan. Loved him. I also liked Bettina despite her issues. Cole is hilarious. She is the queen of one liners, and they are always so fitting for the story. I wonder if she runs those by her crit partners or her husband, and if they don't laugh out loud, she cuts them.
As much as it pains me, I couldn't give this five stars. I was too let down with the resolution (although everything did turn out okay in the end). There are some parts that are just brilliant, but emotionally, the overall story took a blow in my estimation because of the conflict near the end. I love that Cole puts so much thought into her story, and I can imagine it must be hard to keep the details straight, but she seems to do beautifully. She has some really fun characters, many of them quite outrageous, like Salem. I hope to see him again soon. Overall, this book was so much win, but not quite perfect. I sure did love the Lothaire cameo. I love that evil old guy!
This is a dark themed urban fantasy/supernatural fiction novel with some very vivid imagery. Hunt's way of seeing ghosts and through their eyes is disThis is a dark themed urban fantasy/supernatural fiction novel with some very vivid imagery. Hunt's way of seeing ghosts and through their eyes is distinctive. He's a very troubled character and not easy to like. I'll continue this series.
Sadly, I was pretty disappointed with this book. If it was written by another author that I didn't have higher expectations for, I would have liked itSadly, I was pretty disappointed with this book. If it was written by another author that I didn't have higher expectations for, I would have liked it fairly well. But for Gena Showalter, and what I know she can write, this one didn't quite measure up. I think it's the Harlequin Nocturne curse. I've found that these books don't have enough content to make this PNR fan happy. Ms. Showalter seemed to have some issues with the word count restrictions. I think she did the best she could, but I felt that the storytelling wasn't as cohesive, and some aspects were less concrete that I would like. I think as a 400 page book, this could have been an awesome story. For a 281 page book, it's rather half-done.
I wanted more world-building and stronger characterization. The world seemed a bit like a Saturday morning cartoon as far as the fairy land stricken by dark magic. I was left wanting more on that front. The bad guys were kind of cardboard. I love a wicked witch villainess, and this could have rocked in that sense. As is, the players were too sketchy for my tastes. As far as the romance/sexy bits, that was very well done as it was, although more time spent on Nicolai and Jane getting to know each other wouldn't have come amiss.
On the positive side, I really liked Jane as a heroine. Nicolai didn't impress me, but I wasn't necessarily disappointed. He was just okay. He was the standard rakish hero who happens to be a vampire. He didn't strike me as particularly tortured, but yes, he was sexy! I didn't mind the monosyllabic/neanderthal speech as much as some of my fellow readers. It fit Nicolai's character to me, so it didn't stick out. He's an elemental, primal kind of guy, and I would expect that of him for the woman he fell in love/felt a strong bond with. As far as the sex slave to beat all sex slaves angle, I think The Pleasure Slave has a somewhat similar scenario in some respects, but done much better, because there was more time for the story to ripen and bloom fully.
As much as it pains me, I can't give this one more than 3.25/5.0 stars. Ms. Showalter, you still rock for me, and I am still a loyal fan. I blame this more on the short format than on a lack of writing skills on your part. My fingers are crossed that I enjoy the following books in the series a little more. I'm not giving up on Harlequin Nocturnes yet, darn it!...more
I think I sabotaged myself with this book. I got so excited about it. I read too many good reviews. When I finally read it, it couldn't live up to thaI think I sabotaged myself with this book. I got so excited about it. I read too many good reviews. When I finally read it, it couldn't live up to that high expectations.
Fundamentally, Anna Dressed in Blood was a good book. There was really some art in the writing. Full of visually evocative scenes and descriptions, this book appealed to me esthetically and it also made me feel stirrings of unease, pity, and horror. What I didn't feel was a kinship with Cas. Cas is a good guy, a good hero as well. I just didn't connect with him. I have a thing for books with a male point of view. I enjoy reading them and getting inside the head of a male protagonist. With stellar examples of monster hunters like Dean and Sam Winchester from the TV show Supernatural and Cal and Nik Leandros from the book series by Rob Thurman, Cal had some hard acts to follow. I didn't ever get beneath the surface of his sarcastic, wounded by his father's untimely death exterior. I felt like an observer. When I read books, I want to be a part of the story, and feel the emotions of the characters. That can be a dicey thing with this kind of literature, but that's one of the appeals of horror and dark fantasy. If I don't get that engagement, I feel sort of lost.
On the other side, I did feel some emotions for Anna. When we first met, I was really shocked and quite horrified. But that didn't last long (well not as much). As I came to know her, I felt pity and curiosity for her, and a strange sort of sympathy and liking. Now the author did succeed at this. I didn't understand how she could make a love story out of this idea, and she created a very young, fragile seed of one between Cas and Anna. One that I am encouraged to watch grow or at least hope for the best. Other than Cas and Anna, the characterization was sketchy. I did like that Carmel was the 'it girl' with a heart. And I liked Thomas. He's a sweetie who reminded me of my TV husband Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds for some reason.
As far as the suspense storyline, it fell somewhat short. I don't care much for modern horror, with its dependence of shock, gore, and grisly, visceral violence. I like the gothic style, where atmosphere is pivotal. What we don't see feeds our imaginations and escalates the tension we feel to a razor sharp edge. There was some of that beloved gothic appeal, but it was ruined by the injection of teen slasher style horror moments and high school "mean girl/it clique" dross. That's a big turnoff for me. While I don't feel that Blake trivializes the horrible death of teens in this book, I think that going there sort of tarnished this story for me. Also, the climax was too abrupt and I didn't quite get a strong feel or read a strong enough connection between the Anna situation and the one that had steered Cas into his career. I felt like there were embryonic tendrils there that could have bloomed beautifully with more intensive narrative. But not enough in their present form. It felt like voodoo/malevolent entity lite to me. I honestly feel that this book falls into that category of books written for the new generation of tv and movie watchers (and no offense when I say that). The stories have the basic presentation of ideas that reads like a movie, but not in the visual sense. More in the sketchbook/screenplay-basic narrative. Mainly images and snarky comments, but where's the beef fundamentally? While this is not a bad thing in itself, it's not my preferred sort of writing when it comes to novels.
I can see why this book has so much appeal. There are parts that I give an A+ too (namely the imagery and back story of Anna), but they are more sparse than I would like in a book. The overall product is vaguely unsatisfying overall. I give it four stars because of the things I liked about it. I'll keep reading this series because I do like Anna and her relationship with Cas, and Thomas, the teen who befriends Cas, sparkes with his geeky sweetness. I'd like to see what mess they get into next. And I'd like to see if Blake can develop this good idea into something more meaty in the end.
Recommend with some serious reservations.
As much as it pains me, this book turned out to be a very low rated four stars....more